THE USE OF COMPUTER ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY TO HELP
ENABLE INDIVIDUALS WITH QUADRIPLEGIA
Flat 7, Wycliffe House, Havengore
Chelmsford Essex CM1 6JP
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Visual presentation of undergraduate research paper's findings on quadriplegic use of assistive technology to gain computer access. Researcher, C5/6 Quadrplegic due to spinal chord injury.
Complete Paper: In the process of preparing an undergraduate thesis for BSc (Hons) Multimedia Systems, studied at
For a high-level quadriplegic (quad), gaining independent computer access through the use of assistive technology (AT) can be seriously life enhancing. For the purpose of this study AT is a device or mechanical aid which substitutes for, or enhances the function of some physical or mental ability that is impaired - in this case, predominantly the mouse and keyboard functions of the computer. Since the web has become such a regular and widespread communication tool the need is yet more clear-cut, since it gives so many opportunities for the dissemination of specific information which enhances the opportunity for further enablement and improved integration within mainstream society. This study aimed to quantify to what extent and success this is occurring in the United Kingdom (UK) and elsewhere in the world. It looks at the level of awareness of such AT within the high-level spinally injured population, ascertaining whether the most beneficial equipment adaptations are availab!
le to those that require them.
The METHODOLOGY for this study consisted of several
This paper will present both the overall results from the study as well as aspects from the individual case studies. The case studies will highlight both those individuals who have overcome severe obstacles to become exceptionally proficient in the use of computer technology, as well as others who have been unable to achieve proficiency, or are unaware of the possibilities available to them. Additionally the paper discusses how computer access can potentially be improved through multi-agency collaboration. This collaboration needs to include both persons from the able bodied and disabled community. The researcher / presenter, himself quadriplegic, will highlight the importance of taking part in such collaboration. The true meaning of the following quote has been learnt and understood to its fullest!
'.…..as long as disabled people avoid, or are discouraged from, participation in research into their own affairs they will remain passive and dependent upon others. '(Finkelstein, 1992)
The thesis addresses several practical issues and focuses on the following key themes:
• Lack of knowledge of products
• Problems of use e.g. pain
• Lack of understanding knowledge of funding that is available.
• Lack of equipment in spinal unit
• Charities and their present involvement
• Need for education within mainstream society e.g. BSc (hons) Multimedia Systems APU
• Availability of products that are stocked by mainstream society based vendors.
FINKELSTEIN, V. (1992) 'Setting Future Agendas', Keynote address presented at the Disability Research National Conference, Kensington,